Thursday, 12 September 2013

Marty Johnstone - "Mr Asia"

This was a case that made worldwide headlines due to the fact that it was all tied in to an international drug smuggling operation.  In 1979, a group of divers were diving in a quarry at Eccleston Delph, near Chorley in Lancashire, when they came across a body that had caught on a ledge.  If it had not caught on the ledge, it would have sunk to a depth out of reach to the mainly amateur divers.

    I remember seeing a picture of the face of the corpse in the newspapers in a hope of somebody recognising the deceased.  The hands had been chopped off to hinder identification, and an attempt was made to disfigure the face to hinder dental identification.  He was later identified as New Zealander Marty Johnstone.  He was born Christopher Martin Johnstone in 1951 in Auckland and attended Takapuna Grammar School.  He was dubbed "Mr Asia" by Auckland Star reporter Pat Booth, after a series of articles.  It was in October 1979, Johnstone was lured to the UK on the pretext of a major drug buy going off in Scotland, but he only got as far as Lancashire when Johnstone was murdered by Andy Maher, on the orders of Terrence John Clark, a major figure in the drug organisation.

    Maher, Clark and some others were arrested and put on trial for murder at Lancaster Castle, and convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  Clark died in prison on the Isle of Wight from a heart attack, a few years later.  This episode was featured in the Australian crime series "Underbelly".  There was also a drama reconstruction of the case some years ago featuring Victor Maguire - Jack from comedy series "Bread"